Hello, my mother tongue is Portuguese, and I speak fluent English, Spanish and French. I've recently married with a Belgian whose mother tongue is Flemish (Dutch) and French, and speaks fluent English. Since we met we've been communicating in English. We moved in together last year, establishing ourselves in Brussels.
My husband has three kids (9, 11 and 14 years old), who were born and live in the Netherlands. They come to us every other weekend. They speak Dutch among themselves and with my husband when they are here, and that is extremely stressful for me. We sit down to have meals together, and I feel left out as the kids lively chat among themselves as if I were not there. The moment my husband, or myself, ask them to speak English they shut up, even though the 14-year-old can hold a conversation in English (albeit with some effort), and the 11-year-old is able to communicate a story or idea with very limited vocabulary (also with effort). As for the 9-year-old, he can speak but a few sentences but is picking up the language very quickly.
I am studying Flemish, but I don't think I will get to a good level of communication anytime soon. My husband and I are continuously discussing about this issue, i.e., how to create proper communication among all people in the house when the kids are here. Since we live in Brussels, and French is a native tongue of my husband, we'd like to make French our household language.
I have no idea on how to proceed with this! The kids only come every other weekend, and when they go back home they speak Dutch full-time.
Any suggestions, please?